Surprise: Identity Politics Blinded The Media’s Reporting On The Women’s Vote

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 28, 2016 6:00 PM

I’m sure many on the Left were shocked when they saw the 2016 exits.

Trump won 44 percent of the overall women’s vote, 53 percent of white women, and 62 percent of white working class women. Yet, from the media coverage, you would think he would be lucky to get 10 percent. What happened? Well, as Kay Hymowitz wrote, it was identity politics. These progressive female bloggers were brought into the media newsrooms, railed about the patriarchy, and only exacerbated the urban-rural divide. This sisterhood only served to entrench the snobbery and condescension inherent with metropolitan elites, only dotted with lectures about the ever-present oppression from the patriarchy. Again, there is a world beyond the metropolitan areas of America’s cities. And Hymowitz does credit The Atlantic’s Molly Ball and The Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito for venturing into Middle America, where both learned that Republican women abandoning Trump really wasn’t a thing. The president-elect ended up winning 92 percent of Republican women on November 8:

They had heads full of academic theory and millennial angst but little life experience with—and virtually no interest in—military wives from South Carolina or Walmart managers from Staten Island, who also happen to fall into the category “women.” Nor did the new luminaries or their bosses seem to notice that the latter group far outnumbered their own rarefied crowd. Luckily for them, when the 2016 election came along, it seemed designed by a goddess determined to make reality conform to their vision of it. Social media had already let loose a seething crowd of loutish young men who enjoy nothing more than taunting the popular girls; their tweets and posts, ranging from the obnoxious to the genuinely threatening, seemed to prove the worst about white male iniquity.

The election itself, pitting a credentialed feminist godmother against a rude Alpha male, was the best gift of all. The Hollywood Access tape, in which Trump could be heard boasting of grabbing women’s private parts; the steady march of women who came forward to accuse Trump of abuse; the disgust of some high-level Republican women, from Ted Cruz staffer Amanda Carpenter to New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte: the articles could practically write themselves. And so they did: a slew of titles like “Republican Women Are Done with Trump,” (Politico’s Katy Glueck) and “Republican Women Feel Betrayed by Their Party” (Slate’s Michelle Goldberg) popped up like so many weeds after a thunderstorm.

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But the media’s anointed experts on women couldn’t see it. Gender-identity politics requires its practitioners to use the oppression of women as the organizing principle for interpreting the world. All issues can be understood as a version of this Manichean struggle—in the case of the 2016 election, between feminism and misogyny. Relying on a theory from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, Goldberg argued that women were voting for Trump because they depended on their husbands and did what they were told. Both Lake and Goldberg failed to notice that “glass ceiling,” “harassment,” and even “equal pay” didn’t rank with the main sources of working-class discontent such as jobs, the cost of health-care premiums, and terrorism.

Working-class and other Trump-leaning women, much like their male counterparts, are well aware that media elites sneer at them (when they bother thinking about them). So great is their suspicion of their self-appointed betters that instead of being appalled by Trump stories, some assumed that the stories were planted.

[…]

In the end, the gender-identity politicos’ assumption that they were speaking for “women” only served to accentuate the class, education, and geographic divide that they already personified. The election’s aftermath does not suggest that they’re interested in reflecting on that divide. Instead of trying to find out why so many women failed to conform to their model of the world, they have burrowed back down into gender theory. Emily Crockett, Vox’s “staff writer on gender,” explained “Why Misogyny Won.” Buzzfeed’s Ann Helen Peterson lamented, “This is How Much America Hates Women.” As for Trump-voting women, they were obviously mindless and self-deluded. The election results reveal “internalized misogyny,” wrote New York’s Rebecca Traister, a phrase repeated on MSNBC by Jess McIntosh, director of communications for Emily’s List.

Now, I’m not going to be holier than thou here. I thought Trump was a joke. I didn’t think he was going to win the nomination, let alone the election. I was wrong. I’ve admitted as much, though it felt pretty damn good to be wrong since from the get-go I didn’t want to see Hillary Clinton become out next president. Christmas came early on November 8. I live in the bubble of bubbles in the Washington D.C.-area and all the things about Trump that people freaked out about here and elsewhere in liberal America (i.e. New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco) were simply shrugged off by the white working class that dot the Rust Belt. It’s a shame that the Left can’t admit they were wrong. If they look at the data, they would find that millions of Obama supporters, some of them two-time supporters, flipped for Trump. Are they misogynists? Oh, and the whole notion that women voting for Trump out of survival or some odd notion that they’re doing the bidding of their husbands is nonsense. First, it’s demeaning to assume that once you get married, you become a Stepford wife. That’s total crap. My father is a Republican and my mom is a Democrat. They vote differently in presidential elections because this is America where any one can vote for whoever. Millions of other families are the same. Second, we’re a nation of dual-income households; the share of women breadwinners is going through the roof. Women don’t need to depend on their husbands as much. It’s almost as if the Left disregards their own talking points to avoid admitting that Hillary Clinton sucked as a candidate. It’s only the overtly sexist 1960s America…if the Democrats lose. Also, “internalized misogyny” shows that liberals are still aces in making stuff up.

So, as the Left continues to make up pseudointellectual phrases, bash women who voted for Trump because old, sick Hillary couldn’t seal the deal, and continue to whine about everything because that’s what progressives do—the Republicans will be governing. The road out of the wilderness is not hard to find. It requires actually going out to talk with these people as Ball and Zito have shown. Focus on jobs, pension protections, and infrastructure programs that will benefit these working class communities. Then again, the metropolitan elite hates these people. Their insufferable self-righteousness will probably torpedo outreach efforts and once they figure out that these rural Democrats own guns—all bets are off. Democrats used to have these folks in their pocket. Not anymore—and this inability to be introspective is only going to prolong their political pain. Oh well.